Socially Conscious Capital thanks Longniddry residents for involvement in potential development

Developers Socially Conscious Capital (SCC) have thanked the community  of Longniddry for their involvement in shaping the potential future  development of the village.

SCC also highlighted that the emerging proposals, which have been shaped by input and feedback from the Enquiry by Design public meetings and design workshops, point towards a potential development of approximately 450 new homes.

This scale of development is significantly smaller than the original submission to East Lothian Council’s “call for sites” of 750 homes.

East Lothian Council must find land for at least an extra 3,500 new houses by 2024 and decisions made on allocations will impact on the whole of East Lothian, not just on Longniddry.  Indeed, the Supplementary Guidance Technical Note actually specifically mentions Longniddry as one of three sites in East Lothian with the capacity for some of this new housing, given its sustainable location on the railway line.

Any decision regarding future development at Longniddry is still a long way off, and there will be more consultation by both SCC and the Council before decisions are made.

This is a lengthy exercise, working within a timeframe set by both the Scottish Government and East Lothian Council and very few other developers have begun any measure of consultation at this stage.

If development is going to happen, then SCC would prefer the residents of Longniddry to be involved in shaping that development from as early on as possible, which is why they worked with the Prince’s Foundation on the Enquiry by Design process. We believe the Prince’s Foundation’s unique Enquiry by Design process is the best and most consultative option out there, giving Longniddry residents an opportunity to shape potential  development from the very beginning rather than having a fait accompli imposed on them and consulted on at the end.

This charette-style process is indeed recommended by the Scottish Government as best practice and it is seeking to mainstream it.

As part of the process three separate public meetings after work were held, including one in September, in addition to the workshops. All the feedback – both positive and negative – was fed back into the design workshops. Representatives from the community council attended all
these events, and there were numerous local residents dropping in to the workshops throughout the three days, sometimes more than once.

Those who came to the Prince’s Foundation’s presentation on the final evening of the EbD on Thursday 14th November will have noted how the emerging proposals have been shaped by local resident input:

  • The desire to see expansion happen eastwards into the Estate has been reflected in plans that show how that might be possible.
  • Calls for allotments, small offices, a local farm shop, and downsizing opportunities have all been taken into account and reflected in the  emerging proposals.
  • Concerns about the safety of crossing Main Street and the speed of cars along Lyars Road and the Drem Road have been addressed by a range of potential road interventions and public realm improvements.
  • Concerns about the threat of urban sprawl and coalescence have been addressed not just through the reduced scale, but through proposed landscaping that would deliver defined and defensible boundaries to the development.
  • Concerns about the village character being lost have been addressed through careful and traditional design, making sure that any new houses would keep the local character intact.

Development in a village is always a contentious issue and, unsurprisingly, there are a significant number of Longniddry residents who have made it clear that they want no more houses in their village.

However, there are other residents who appreciate that places can’t stand still forever and that development can bring benefits as well, such as access to new homes, stemming a falling school roll and delivering new facilities for the community. Ultimately the decision on whether development will take place will be made by East Lothian Council and not the developer.

While arguments about the use of arable land for development have been  played out, it should be noted that not only is there very limited brownfield land in East Lothian, but also that brownfield land is not always the most sustainable location for development if it is not in the right place.

If there is a greenfield site close to railway connection this is better than isolated brownfield sites. It should also be noted that the emerging proposals at Longniddry, should they be taken forward, occupy approximately 0.013% of the arable land in East Lothian and is not prime (Grade 1) arable land, but a mixture of Grade 2 and 3.

Of course this is just the beginning and SCC will need an ongoing dialogue, not just with local residents, but with the Council and other key service providers to test capacity and viability of the proposals as they continue to develop.

Rock Feilding of Socially Conscious Capital said:

“We would like to thank the residents of Longniddry for participating in the Enquiry by Design process. If there is going to be further development at Longniddry, then we believe it should be designed with the early input from local residents and stakeholders to ensure that concerns and potential problems are alleviated and that it provides maximum local benefit. That is precisely why we asked the Prince’s Foundation to test what development is possible at Longniddry through its Enquiry by Design process.

“We are conscious that few, if any, developers engage with the local community at this stage in the process. While going public at this early stage has actually provoked those opposed to development into action much sooner than elsewhere, and while there are still many local residents sceptical of the need or desirability of any future development , we stand by our decision to start engaging with the village now. This is because we think we are much more likely to deliver the right development in the right place in this way than if we had tried flying under the radar only to consult with the village when all the design work had been done and the allocation secured in the Local Plan.”

The Prince’s Foundation is due to produce its report on the findings of the consultation by the end of the year and this will be shared with the village at the beginning of next year.

Notes to Editors

About the Prince’s Foundation

The Prince’s Foundation teaches and demonstrates sustainable development placing community engagement at the heart of our work.
The environment within which people live affects the way they live. We believe that sustainably planned, built and maintained communities improve the quality of life of everyone who’s part of them. They help us to both live better at a local level and start dealing with the broader global challenges of urbanisation and climate change. By actively and passionately promoting traditional principles, as well as understanding the importance of building in a more sustainable way, we’ve seen a resurgence in striving for easily achieved improvements in public health, and affordable, livelier and safer streets and communities.

Our goal is a future where all of us can take part in making our communities more sustainable. We’re working with everyone from local residents’ groups to governments to make it happen.

For further information: www.princes-foundation.org

About Socially Conscious Capital

SCC is a family-controlled development business committed to the principles of Sustainable Urbanism: we want to build new developments that have a mix of uses, housing types and tenures, that are walkable and encourage sustainable modes of travel, that are in keeping with the local vernacular and sensitive to distinctive local styles, and that people will want to live and work in for hundreds of years to come. We believe that by building such communities, with a real sense of place and belonging, we can maximize the value of the development while ensuring social, environmental, and economic benefits for local people – that is why we are called ‘Socially Conscious Capital’.

SCC was established in 2009, but our management team has over 40 years experience in the property development, investment, and management sector. Between us we have secured planning permission for over 10,000 new homes and have worked on many significant development and regeneration projects.

For further information: www.sociallyconsciouscapital.co.uk